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Mobile phones in the air: plane madness

UK regulator Ofcom this week gave the go ahead for the use of mobile phones on planes flying in European airspace. And the world officially went mad.

Ofcom's decision will eventually pave the way for airlines to offer mobile-phone coverage on UK-registered aircraft, meaning that mobiles could be used once a plane has reached an altitude of 3,000 metres.

Great. Just what you need when you're trapped with strangers in a heavy metal tube, literally miles above terra firma - some tosser with a mobile saying things like: 'leverage', 'going forward', and 'yeah, it was brilliant. We rinsed them for money. Cashback. Yeah. Listen, when I get back let's hook up, get bladdered and grab a curry. Great. Yeah. See you Mum'. Or worse: how about listening to someone else's domestic while you hurtle through nothingness? Fear of flying is set to take on a whole new meaning.

Apparently, Ofcom's ruling is the result of a 'lengthy consultation exercise'. Well it must have consulted morons. Or teenage girls.

Being stuck in the air with other people's breath, flab and neurosis is an unpleasant enough experience without having to listen to other people's 'crucial' phonecalls.

The only saving grace of London's rickety old Tube is that it is - for the most part - mobile free. (Well, that and the fact that it's so easy to send tourists in the wrong direction. Suckers.) It turns out you don't actually need to be logged on 24/7. And isn't it nice just to unplug every once in a while?

(From the phone anyway. It is clearly our inalienable right to be able to surf the web all day, every day. What do you mean having my cake and eating it?)

Also, I love this sweet idea that people will wait until they are 'above 3,000m', and the mobile-phone light pings on, before they start phoning home and shouting 'I'm on the plane'. You're not supposed to unbuckle your belt until the aircraft comes to a complete halt, but that doesn't stop the smokers, pensioners and chavs from bolting down the front of the plane and scrapping for the glory of being first off. (The same people always want to be first on, so at least their 'on-plane' time is the same as everyone else's.)

And I'll let you into a little secret: it's a long time since I actually concentrated on the safety demonstration. I am me. They can't tell me what to do.

No. I really can't see who benefits from infesting aircraft with mobile phones, except the blessed mobile-phone carriers themselves, and perhaps the green lobby who may finally persuade right-thinking people that flying is the devil's work.

Give us the web in the air, take our phones from us as we check in, and liberally douse us in gin. It's the only way to fly. Chocks away!

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